Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016 — that is the motto of the ninth annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. On September 22, 2016, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) will encourage the nation to raise awareness of the dangers of falls for older adults.
The Importance of Preventing Falls Among Older Americans
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.8 million older adults receive treatment for fall injuries in emergency departments each year. One out of every five falls will cause a serious injury, such as head trauma or broken bones.
Hip fractures are one of the most common results of a fall among older Americans. Every year an estimated 300,000 older adults will experience hip fractures; 95 percent of these injuries will be due to falls, reports the CDC.
For older adults who live alone, a fall can be life-threatening.
Why are older people so threatened by falls?
The natural process of aging causes us to become more prone to falling. Some age-related fall risks include:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency causing brittle bones
- Vision problems
- Use of certain medications
- Tremors or difficulty with balance
- Foot pain
- Slow reflexes
It is important to note that falls can happen anywhere; your older loved one can suffer a fall injury at home alone or under the care of nursing home staff.
Preventing Falls When Your Loved One Lives at Home
Whether your elderly loved one lives alone or in your home, you can do the following to help prevent her from falling:
- Help keep your elder relative's home safe by removing trip hazards like rugs or cords from walking areas.
- Keep up with repairs to broken or loose stairs and floorboards to reduce the risk of tripping.
- Talk to your loved one about her concerns about moving around safely.
- Consider taking your elderly loved one to exercise classes like Tai Chi that can strengthen leg muscles and improve balance.
Preventing Falls When Your Loved One Lives in a Nursing Home
Nursing homes should have fall prevention protocols in place to keep their residents safe. These protocols might include:
- Bed alarms
- Assisted restroom use
- Grab bars and guide rails
- Encouraged use of walkers or wheelchairs
When visiting your loved one, make sure the floor in her room is clear of all hazards, and the furniture is easy to maneuver around by foot. Keep personal items like TV remotes and phones nearby to reduce the need to walk around. If you notice unusual injuries or receive notice of an injury without explanation, talk to the staff to make sure your loved one is not a victim of elder abuse.
If your loved one fell due to the negligence of a caretaker, nursing home, or property owner, call Goldstein & Bashner at 516-874-4362 to discuss your legal options. Fill out our case review form to schedule a free consultation and feel free to check out our blog and library for more safety tips for elders.